PARIS, 28 June 2012 (IBIB) – The International Buddhist Information Bureau has received an urgent communication from the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), sent clandestinely from the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery where he is under de facto house arrest. Deeply disturbed by increasing Chinese incursions on Vietnamese waters and lands, the UBCV leader and 2012 Nobel Peace Prize nominee called for a nationwide demonstration on Sunday 1st July 2012 to protest Chinese expansionism and press the Hanoi government to take a firm stand to protect Vietnam’s national integrity.
Thich Quang Do addresses farmers in Ho Chi Minh City demonstrating against state confiscation of lands in July 2007.
This appeal is prompted by the recent invitation by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation for international bids on nine oil and gas lots which are situated deep inside Vietnam’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. At the same time, the Chinese media has launched a series of threats against Vietnam, demanding that the National Assembly “rectify its errors” by repealing the recently-adopted Law of the Sea which affirms Vietnamese sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly islands.
For Thich Quang Do, 84, this is just the last in a series of increasingly brazen violations of Vietnamese sovereignty by its northern neighbour. Indeed, Thich Quang Do was amongst the first to alert international opinion to the grave dangers of Chinese expansionism in Vietnam, such as environmental and security threats caused by the influx of thousands of Chinese workers to mine bauxite in the Central highlands in 2007; Hanoi’s 50-year leasing to China of forest regions along the northern Vietnamese borders; the capture and killings of Vietnamese fishermen in China’s moves to appropriate the Paracel and Spratly islands.
Faced with the inconsistent and irresolute attitude of the Hanoi authorities, Thich Quang Do launched the following appeal:
“Recognizing the danger of a new Chinese domination of our homeland, the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam calls upon all Vietnamese at home and abroad, irrespective of opinion, religion, gender or age, to stage demonstrations on 1st July 2012 in order to denounce Chinese incursions and protect the sovereignty of our nation” (see full text below).
TO OPPOSE FOREIGN ENCROACHMENT AND SAVEGUARD THE HOMELAND
“To all religious leaders, intellectuals, members of political parties, youth movements, students, young people and all Vietnamese at home and abroad,
“For thousands of years, China has systematically sought to invade our country by one way or another. It has never abandoned the “Great Han” expansionist dream.
“Today, the Paracel and Spratly islands, as well as significant areas of northern Vietnam are under China’s control. Chinese settlers have been sent to occupy the Central highlands and mountainous regions in ten Vietnamese provinces under different forms, such as working on bauxite mining projects or renting forest areas for long-term periods of periods of 50 years and more.
“China has established the “Sansha City” covering the islands of Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) which historically belong to Vietnam.
“Since 2005, China has shot and killed Vietnamese fishermen, confiscating their ships and property. It has arrested Vietnamese fishermen and even demanded ransom for their release like common bandits.
“China has blatantly and brazenly violated our sovereignty. Yet the Vietnamese authorities, caught up in their pledges of friendship and the Chinese motto of “16 golden words and 4 rules of good relationship”, have not clearly distinguished between friend and foe. So far, their protests have been formal and feeble, only helping to stimulate China’s momentum in encroaching even further into our waters and lands with total impunity.
“At the same time, Hanoi has opened its northern borders, allowing the free flow of Chinese into our country which Hanoi is powerless to control.
“Chinese settlers have set up “Chinatowns” and off-limits zones in provinces such as Binh Duong, Lam Dong and many other places where Vietnamese are forbidden to tread.
“And now, China has brazenly launched an invitation for international bids on nine oil and gas lots that are within Vietnamese territorial waters.
“Recognizing the danger of a new Chinese domination of our homeland, the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam calls upon all Vietnamese people, at home and abroad, irrespective of their opinions, religion, gender or age, to stage public demonstrations on 1st July 2012 in order to denounce Chinese incursions and protect the sovereignty of our nation.
“I pray for the safety and security of our homeland. May all the heroes, both men and women, who have protected Vietnam throughout our history, be with us as we stand together today against foreign domination.
“I wish the Vietnamese people success in their commitment and action”.
On behalf of the UBCV Bi-Cameral Council
Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam
Sramana Thich Quang Do